Welcome to Edinburgh is Festival City, the first of a series of posts on our tour of Scotland. Highlights include the Edinburgh Festivals, the City of Edinburgh, Bobby, The Ultra-Loyal Skye Terrier, and Harry Potter.
Scotland is part of Rick’s heritage, so it had special significance for him.
But the first thing you have to remember in Edinburgh is don’t pronounce it “Edinburg”. The locals are quick to correct you with a scowl. There are many websites that differ on the “proper” pronunciation, but “Edinbara”, where the ‘a’s are pronounced as in the word “about”, will get you by the pronunciation police.
See the highlights below of the 10 days we spent in Edinburgh. Click on any photo in a section to view them all full size.
Then check out the other posts in this series 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – In Pictures, The Scottish Highlands by Campervan and The Abandoned Islands of St. Kilda.
Also, please be sure to follow us on one of our social media channels at the top or bottom of this page, or subscribe to our blog. You will be notified of upcoming posts about our adventures.
The Edinburgh Festivals
Edinburgh is Festival City, and that is no more evident than in August of every year when four, yes four, world-class festivals run in parallel. The Edinburgh International Festival provides top performances in dance, opera, music and theatre, while the Edinburgh Fringe Festival puts on a huge array of music, theatre, comedy, spoken word, children’s shows, street performers, etc. The Edinburgh Book Festival is much smaller as it brings together writers and readers to listen to and discuss the written word. The Edinburgh Art Festival, also smaller, celebrates the visual arts. Fun atmosphere.
We saw several Fringe performances this year, and they were hit-or-miss. For us the “Cabaret” show we saw, which was presented every day and promoted shows at the fest, was a big miss, while “Best of the Show” was as advertised. “The Nature of Forgetting” was the best play we saw. Let’s just say, “Patron beware.” Of course the Canadian-themed shows were the funniest. Everyone knows Canada has the best comedians. Here are some of the sights we experienced.
Edinburgh, Beyond the Festivals
The city of Edinburgh is rapt with history and architecture. They were best explored in group tours, first of Old Town, and then of New Town. After the tours, we revisited the most interesting sites on our own at a more leisurely pace.
Two of the most appealing historical accounts were of Wojtek, the Soldier Bear, and of Bobby, the ultra-loyal Skye Terrier. Please visit Wojtek, The Soldier Bear for more about the bear that “joined” the Polish army.
The food in Edinburgh was, perhaps surprisingly, good. We even enjoyed Scottish tapas consisting of fish, seafood, Scottish meats and cheeses, and haggis. Haggis was available at most restaurants. And yes, Rick liked The Haggis. We never saw a sheep’s stomach, which haggis is traditionally cooked in, nor one of the artificial casings it is usually cooked in today. Instead, the haggis was served in a mound as a little side-dish. It looked much like turkey dressing, had a nutty texture and a very savoury flavour.
Bobby, The Ultra-Loyal Skye Terrier
The story of Bobby, the Skye Terrier, is a most heart-warming story of love and loyalty. Bobby laid on his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard (a cemetary) for 14 years until Bobby died at age 16. For more on the story, visit Greyfriars Bobby.
The Closes of Edinburgh
Edinburgh originally consisted of a main street with several “closes”, which is Scottish for alleyways, leading north and south from the street. The closes were named after a well-known occupant or trade in the alley. There are about a hundred of them. Today, they connect the main street with other streets.
Harry Potter Land
Many locations in Old Town Edinburgh have connections to the Harry Potter novels. J. K. Rowling is believed to have used locations in Edinburgh as inspiration while writing the books.
The Anderson Name
According to the National Museum of Scotland, the Anderson name in Scotland originated in the Shetland Islands. It says the Shetland Islands were settled by the Norse in the Middle Ages, the time of the Vikings. Hence the similarity between the Scottish Anderson, Swedish Andersson and Danish Andersen. In conclusion, HOLY CRAP!! I MAY BE A VIKING! “ODIN OWNS YE ALL!” “TYR!” LOL!
According to legend, and Wikipedia, Óengus II (king of the Picts) chose St. Andrew as the patron saint of Scotland in 832 AD. It is St. Andrew’s cross, the Saltire, on the Scottish flag today. The name Anderson means “Andrew’s son”. So maybe, just maybe, St Andrew is at the head of my family tree. Okay, maybe not.
A Nod to Rick’s Hometown
According to Wikipedia, John Galt was a Scottish novelist, entrepreneur, and political and social commentator. He was the first superintendent of the Canada Company that was formed in the early nineteen century to populate a large part of what is now Southern Ontario, then known as Upper Canada. The area was known as the Huron Tract. Galt’s company built cities, roads, mills, etc. throughout the area. He selected what later became Guelph, Ontario, Rick’s hometown, as the company’s headquarters, and began to develop a town there. Galt has been commemorated for his written works at Makar’s Court, outside the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh Scotland. “birr and smeddum” is from his Annals of the Parish, and means “energy and spirit”.